Yesterday I found myself persistently humming bits and pieces of a melody as I went about my day...the same bits over and over again. But what was the song? Couldn't quite figure it out, but couldn't get it out of my head either. As the day progressed more notes and a couple of phrases fell into place, and I finally discovered, to my own amazement, that I had been singing an old hymn.
I grew up churchy. Real churchy. And not regular, Baptist church on the corner every Sunday churchy, but all encompassing "way of life", live, breathe, wake, sleep for The Church churchy. The Church was the Worldwide Church of God, widely considered a cult, complete with charismatic leader, laws about what to eat, wear and do, dire, impending consequences for breaking said laws, our own hymns, holy days, literature and even our own colleges, and most importantly of all, a ticking time bomb doomsday prophesy that was going to take place within our lifetimes (at which time all you people that made up "the world" would perish in "the war to end all wars" and the few and the righteous would be swiftly transported to "the place of safety", commonly believed to be Petra...you know that place where Indy finds the grail cup in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade...seriously...no seriously, I kid you not).
Now the purpose of this blog post is not to get all "O woe is my screwed up childhood" on you. It could have been better, it could have been worse. I at least ended up with some amusing cocktail stories.
It has been a very long time since I disassociated myself from The Church and began working through all the attendant issues that came with growing up that way. These days I generally feel pretty well adjusted...and happy. I think a lot about where I am, and where I am going, with very few thoughts spared for the far distant past. So it was a bit of a surprise to find myself, humming that blast from the past purple hymnal tune, even more of a surprise to realize, as the day went on, and it drifted back up to the surface of my mind fragment, by fragment like the flotsam from some long submerged wreck...that I could remember nearly the whole thing!
I can't remember what I just ate for breakfast. I have been known to forget my own phone number with an alarmingly Alzheimers-like frequency. I have read entire books, that are almost like new to me when I pick them up again a couple of years later. Yet here is this song, sung in rotation with about 100 others, on various long Saturday afternoons of my childhood, that has somehow been indelibly recorded in the deep recesses of my brain. Apparently you can take the girl out of the cult, but you can never quite take the cult out of the girl. I guess that's why they call them your formative years. For better or for worse, growing up in The Church is an unshakable part of what makes me, me.
This got me thinking about the habits, experiences and exposures that we are helping to create for our sons during their formative years. When they were really little, I tied myself up in knots over having them listen to just the right Mozart songs at just the right developmental window, in order to grow their brains just so (I know, gag.). But since they've started school it often feels like we're just running to keep up, rather than making enough mindful choices...fill in this form, call this person, break up a squabble, help with spelling homework, dinner, break up a squabble, try to tidy up a bit, zone out exhausted in front of the computer, bedtime routine, more squabbling (they are twins!) etc. Still, along the way, they have been exposed to all their dad and my nerdy interests, done some fun stuff, seen some pretty good examples of types of human behaviour good and bad (thankfully mostly good) and all this cobbled together will be their deep foundation. It bears some more consideration, I think, these remaining formative years and what we choose for the bits that are within our control.
So the hymn in my head was a good reminder of how indelibly marked each of us are with the habits and experiences of those years. Not trapped by them like victims. I can still choose whether to remain angry, or to hum that tune with some humour...but there is no denying that it is there in my head.
(I wonder what exactly will become a part of E & L's emotional landscapes? I'd put money on the boy wizard and the Skywalker clan looming large for them. Cool. I'm wagering that the simple morals in those stories will do way more good than yet another convoluted Bible interpretation any day.)
11 hours ago